This postseason, in games in which they can eliminate an opponent, the Vancouver Canucks are 2-4. A losing record. Not good at all. So tonight, as they host the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the idea that they'll easily push their opponent aside and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals is less than a certainty.
Of course, when their opponent is a team like San Jose with less-than-stellar mental fortitude, it kind of makes things even more of a toss-up from that perspective. It's even a toss-up on the injury front when it comes to determining which team has an edge.
You'd think the Sharks would have the advantage, since Joe Thornton will definitely play Game 5 despite a shoulder injury and the Canucks are still without Aaron Rome and Christian Ehrhoff. But Vancouver was able to win Game 4 just fine without those two, and we have no idea how effective Thornton will be tonight with his ailment.
He says he's 100 percent. He's not 100 percent. We'll see what happens.
The task for the Sharks really is quite simple. They have to win three games in a row to keep their season going and to keep the dream of a Stanley Cup alive for another few weeks. Our Sharks blog, Fear The Fin, thinks they can use the experience of a long, tough season to get them through.
That six game losing streak in the middle of January parallels the struggles they are going through right now. It's disheartening that those traits have resurfaced at this time of year of course, something I'm sure Todd McLellan and his coaching staff are none too pleased to see. Adversity loses its power when it's self-inflicted. It becomes easy to think about what could have been instead of what must be done.
The thing is, that six-game losing streak mentality is what arguably got San Jose here in the first place-- if they don't hit rock bottom in January who knows where they end up. In some grand and optimistic way, seeing those traits now is probably the only positive this team can take out of a 3-1 series deficit against the Presidents' Trophy winners. It provides a blueprint for where they need to go from here, a map for these tumultuous seas they have traveled once before with weary hearts and minds.
For more on the NHL's Western Conference Final, check in with our Sharks vs. Canucks series hub, as well as our blogs: Fear The Fin covering the Sharks and Nucks Misconduct covering the Canucks. You can find more local coverage at SB Nation Bay Area and Battle of California.